Did spaghetti really have a heyday, when it was more popular than now? You bet your noodle it did… at least by one measure.
We compared the incidence of the word “spaghetti” in newspapers nationwide for each decade of the 20th century, and found that the word became more and more popular until reaching its peak in the ’60s and ’70s. The ’80s started a slow but steady decline of the food’s popularity (or need to share recipes for it) in the daily news.
Easy, saucy spaghetti recipes from the ’60s & ’70s
Family dinner or special party dish? Spaghetti is one of the few foods with special virtues that serves either occasion. There’s nothing like a good spaghetti sauce recipe for bringing fame to a hostess.
If you’re serving this spaghetti for family dinner, the savory flavor and aroma are all the invitation that’s needed to bring them in at dinner time.
Summer spaghetti (1967)
What to serve with this dish? Our friend says crisp thin breadsticks are a must. For the salad, she likes cooked snap beans and green onions marinated in a spicy mixture of vinegar and sugar, and arranged on romaine lettuce. – Cecily Brownstone
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, well-rubbed
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/3 cup dry red wine
1/2 pound thin spaghetti
Grated Parmesan cheese
Crushed dried red pepper
In a ten-inch skillet, over moderate heat, cook the butter, olive oil and garlic for about one minute; do not brown the garlic. Add mushrooms and cook, turning often, until softened — about five minutes.
Sprinkle with salt, oregano an parsley; pour in wine. Stir well, heat wine; cover and keep warm off heat.
Meanwhile, break spaghetti strands in half and cook according to package directions. Drain well, and return to clean pot.
Add mushroom sauce and toss well. Serve on hot plates. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and red peppers for those eaters who want this topping. Makes four servings.
Food editor’s note: We found that an inexpensive, robust-flavored domestic Burgundy was perfect to use in this recipe.
1-1/2 pounds lean bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium onions, chopped
5 or 6 stalks of celery, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium green peppers cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 can (12 ounces) mushroom stems and pieces
2 cans (16 ounces) stewed tomatoes
3 cups tomato juice
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
2-3 dashes hot pepper sauce (optional)
3 cups uncooked spaghetti or elbow macaroni
Brown bacon. Add onions, celery, and garlic and cook until soft. Add remaining ingredients and cook over low heat 20 to 30 minutes.
Cook spaghetti or elbow macaroni in boiling salted water eight to 10 minutes. Drain and rinse. Place in 4-quart kettle. Add sauce and combine thoroughly. Heat through before serving.
1 pound hamburger
1 garlic clove (whole)
1 chopped onion (medium)
1/2 sliced green olives with pimento
1 can whole tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 to 1-1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 cups mushrooms (optional)
Medium pkg. spaghetti noodles
1 to 2 teaspoons salt (for pasta water)
Brown hamburger in garlic. Mix onion. olives. tomatoes. tomato paste, salt, oregano and mushrooms in a bowl. Mix hamburger and tomato mixture in a large pan and bring to a bubbling liquid at medium heat. Turn heat to low and simmer about 45 minutes or until tomatoes have cooked down to a soft liquid.
Meanwhile. heat a large pan half full of water: add salt. When boiling, add spaghetti noodles: cook 8 to 10 minutes until done. Serve sauce over noodles. Extra sauce may be refrigerated. Tastes even better the next day.
Sausage spaghetti (1964)
This spaghetti recipe uses both ground beef and bulk sausage meat, and is one of the most enticing of all. Two and one-half pounds of meat is used for 6 to 8 people. There’s a nice blending of spices to enhance the flavor of both meat and spaghetti. Plentiful now, ripe olives add a novel interest to this dish.
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1 pound fresh (bulk) pork sausage
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup chopped onion
1 green pepper, chopped
2 cans (6 ounces each) tomato paste
1 can (1 pound 13 ounces) tomatoes
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 packages (7 ounces each) spaghetti
1/2 cup sliced ripe olives
Parmesan cheese, if desired
Cook ground beef, sausage, garlic, onion and green pepper until meat is lightly browned. Pour off drippings. Add tomato paste, tomatoes, salt, oregano, basil and chili powder. Cover tightly and simmer 30 minutes. Uncover and simmer 15 minutes.
Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain. Serve sauce over spaghetti. Sprinkle sliced olives over sauce and serve with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Italian spaghetti and meatballs recipe (1961)
A tattered recipe card holds spaghetti recipe. “Almost everyone thinks spaghetti sauce should be hot, but it isn’t,” he said. “The sauce gets its flavor from the meatballs simmering in it.”
1 pound ground beef
3 tbsp. dry bread crumbs
3 tbsp. grated Italian cheese
1/2 clove garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 No. 2 can tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 cup water
1 lb. spaghetti, cooked
Make meatballs from beef, bread crumbs, cheese, egg, garlic, salt and pepper. Fry until brown. Cook together about 10 minutes the tomatoes, tomato paste and water. Add meatballs and continue cooking very slowly about an hour, adding more water when necessary. Place cooked spaghetti on larger platter and cover with grated Italian cheese and the sauce.